An intersectional triumph! Score another victory for gay narcissistic hedonism!!
The woke film industry just cannot help itself from nagging and lecturing us about how hip homosexuality is and how most of us are bigoted clodhopper dolts for not getting their message no matter how often they send it. Well, this message is pretty clear: it’s okay for an older male household guest to corn-hole and blow his professor’s teenage son, because that is just so special. Oh, don’t miss the allusions to the Greek myth of Narcissus, what with all the ponds and swimming pools, not to mention the silly “call my by your name” thing. Elio: “I wuv you, Elio!!” Oliver: “I wuv you, Oliver!”
In one scene grad student Oliver is reviewing images of classical Greek sculpture with his professor and host, and all he has to say about the Charioteer of Delphi is “So sensual,” as if the viewer’s hard-on is the truest test of an immortal artwork’s beauty. Why the ancient Greeks? Well, because pederasty! Middle-aged men would bugger tween boys as part of introducing them to aristocratic male social etiquette and political engagement. How cool is that, right? But not all of them. Socrates’ refusal of Alcibiades is a salutary corrective to this sordid historical myth. But your Idiot digresses.
I know: the filmmakers were adapting a book and couldn’t depart from its core plot. But you and I can have a thought experiment with a couple of alternate plots, can’t we? All righty, then, here goes.
Alternate plot 1: In northern Italy in the 1980s, seventeen-year old Elia begins a relationship with Oliver, her art professor father’s twenty-four year old male heterosexual cis-gender research assistant for the summer, with whom she bonds over her budding sexuality, their shared Jewish identity, and the charming north Italian landscape. At first Oliver is reluctant to respond to Elia’s approaches but, as the age of consent in Italy is fourteen (because Juliet Capulet), he yields, to their mutual ecstasy. After their first sex act, Elia, overcome with her desire for Oliver while he is away, slakes her passion with a zucchini from her family’s kitchen garden (a motif borrowed from the “Thérèse Philosophe” scene in the 1973 soft porn masterpiece Immoral Tales), beautifully illustrating how natural, organic and gluten-free their love is. Later, at her progressive Jewish-ish parents’ urging, Elia and Oliver travel together to Bergamo, get drunk, have lots of sex, and run around under gushing waterfalls calling each other by their own names, a courageous experiment in transsexuality. Six months later, after Oliver has returned to the U. S. and Elia has had an abortion, Elia’s mother consoles her tearful daughter with wise words about the summertime sex romp as something “very special,” something she wishes she had experienced at that age.
Alternate plot 2: In northern Italy in the 1980s, seventeen-year old Elio begins a relationship with Oliver, his art history professor father’s twenty-four year old male bisexual cis-gender research assistant for the summer, with whom he bonds over his budding sexuality, their shared Jewish identity, and the charming north Italian landscape. At first Oliver is strongly tempted to yield to Elio’s advances, but manfully resists, explaining to Elio the reasons why it would be wrong for them to have sex: their obvious age difference (though the age of consent in Italy is fourteen); the betrayal of Elio’s parents’ trust; the moral confusion that might be caused to a still-developing young man; and the deep emotional damage that might be done by reducing sex to meaningless and casual hedonistic gratification. They travel together to Bergamo, where Oliver teaches Elio about Greek and Roman sculpture and they form a lasting friendship worthy of the name. Years later they meet in New York, each married, with children and happy lives. They look each other squarely in the eye and share a firm handshake. Elio thanks Oliver for his moral courage and self-control all those years ago.
Listen, if you value your time on this earth, do not waste two and a half precious hours in the theater enduring this sermon, this diatribe.
IMDb refused this review. Did I say something idiotic again?